2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines Analysis

Jan 8

We've reviewed the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans released by USDA/HHS. The National Restaurant Association's analysis is as follows: SUMMARY The new Guidelines focus on variety in foods and beverages, nutrient-density and portion sizes, suggesting ways for Americans to shift to healthier food and beverage choices. The Guidelines also focus on overall dietary patterns, rather than meals. The recommendations generally promote foods to include in the diet, rather than encouraging greater consumption of specific nutrients. The Guidelines suggest limiting consumption of sodium, trans fat, and added sugars. 2015 DGA KEY RECOMMENDATIONS Consume a healthy eating pattern that accounts for all foods and beverages within an appropriate calorie level. A healthy eating pattern includes:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other.
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products

A healthy eating pattern should limit:

  • Saturated fats and trans fats
  • Added sugars

The Guidelines provide quantitative recommendations for several components of the diet:

  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars
  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats
  • Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium
  • If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation”up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men”and only by adults of legal drinking age.

The good news for the restaurant industry is that these Guidelines move away from focusing on WHERE food is purchased (retail, restaurants, grocery stores, farmers markets, etc.) to WHAT foods are purchased and their contribution to overall dietary patterns. This is a result of hard work by the National Restaurant Association and our members engaging in the Dietary Guidelines process. The Guidelines also highlight a comprehensive approach to supporting healthy eating patterns. Suggestions include reformulating products, modifying menus, adapting portion sizes, and increasing better-for-you foods. As you are well aware, restaurant companies are already pursuing these strategies, and we will continue to highlight the industry's efforts. As FDA prepares to release voluntary sodium-reduction targets, we also need to continue to tell the story about our industry's efforts to reduce sodium levels. Other components of the Guidelines include:

  • Cholesterol: The 2015 Guidelines do not include a recommendation contained in the 2010 Guidelines to limit consumption of dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day. But the 2015 Guidelines note that the change does not suggest that dietary cholesterol is no longer important to consider when building healthy eating patterns. ¦ [I]ndividuals should eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible while consuming a healthy eating pattern."
  • Meat and poultry: Lean meat and poultry continue to be recommended as part of a healthy diet. The Guidelines note that processed meats often contain increased sodium, but acknowledge that there's a place in a healthy eating pattern for processed meats as long as people stay within recommended limits for overall levels of sodium, calories from saturated fat, and calories from added sugars.
  • Caffeine: This is the first edition to says moderate coffee consumption (three to five 8-ounce cups per day or providing up to 400 mg per day of caffeine) can be incorporated into healthy eating patterns.


  • Shift to consume more vegetables.
  • Shift to make half of all grains consumed be whole grains.
  • Shift to consume more dairy products, in nutrient-dense forms.
  • Shift to increase variety in protein foods choices and to make more nutrient-dense choices.
  • Shift from solid fats to oils.
  • Shift to reduce added-sugars consumption to less than 10 percent of calories per day.
  • Shift to reduce saturated fats intake to less than 10 percent of calories per day.
  • Shift food choices to reduce sodium intake.

You can find the 2015 DGA at Information provided by the National Restaurant Association. For more information, please contact Joan McGlockton,


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